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EPT13 Malta: Silent Karlsson assumes chip lead in Malta


Mats Karlsson: Silent but deadly

If it's always the quiet ones you have to worry about, Mats Karlsson was today's case in point. In what proved a speedy day in the EPT Malta Main Event, Karlsson spoke very little, letting the chips speak for him as he ruined the days of numerous opponents. The result was the chip lead tonight, a little more than 2 million, with 14 players left.

It proved another speedy day at the Portomaso Casino. The field of 30 was cut down to just 16 in a little more than three levels today, a rate that prompted tournament staff to play on into a fourth level to ensure tomorrow was not a long day spent playing catch up.

While Karlsson benefitted most let's first deal with the casualties. We lost the likes of recent IPT winner Ismael Bojang, one time chip leader Guillaume Valle, Usman Siddique, and Sarah Herzali in quick succession. Following soon after were Chi Zhang, Davidi Kitai (rivered by an ace) and Brian Altman.

Meanwhile the retirement plans of one massage therapist were put on hold by the elimination of Sergey Sergeev in 20th place. Dmitry Yurasov's running diamonds ended what had been a four-day back rub for Sergeev, spanning nearly 21 levels of play.

sergey_sergeev_massage.jpgTime for a break? Sergey Sergeev was among the fallers today

That means when play resumes tomorrow we'll need to lose eight players before we have the final table of six.

Here's how they'll stack up.

Mats KarlssonSweden2,033,000
Dmitry YurasovRussia1,709,000
Dominik PankaPoland1,411,000
Aliaksei BoikaBelarus1,195,000
Elie SaadLebanon1,089,000
Bastian DohlerGermany1,033,000
Peter OckendenNetherlands1,004,000
Tomas MacnamaraUK943,000
Louis CartariusGermany879,000
Daniele ColauttiItaly697,000
Marco BartoliniItaly670000
Benjamin PollakFrance605,000
Xixiang LuoChina572,000
Ole SchemionGermany214,000

The two names that stand out on that list are Dominik Panka and Ole Schemion. Both had very different days.

First Panka, who after a level of play today was reduced to four big blinds after his aces were undone by Sergeev's set of threes. At the time he joked that his game was not working anymore, but it would take a fool to believe him. He recovered with style and returns as a principal threat tomorrow.

Then there was Schemion, seemingly dressed as a disciple, and seemingly impervious to the outrageous fortunes other endured. But a last level seated to the left of Karlsson proved costly, with a series of hands going in favour of the Swede and leaving Schemion the short stack, with work to do tomorrow.

Others will rightfully return with high hopes, not least Bastian Dohler.

While some will say you don't get something for nothing in this world, others will say that for €10 and a Spin & Go win you can make quite a lot in return. In short that's Dohler's story right now.

He got here by virtue of €10 well spent, and now has a million chips, that's good for sixth place. He's guaranteed to turn that into €25,030, with the possibility of making it €355,700 instead very real.

That sums up a fast paced day on the EPT. If you want the long version you can scroll down to recap on all the updates from today, including all the eliminations. There will be more tomorrow; eight to be exact, before we know which six players will contest the final on Saturday.

Join us when play resumes tomorrow at 12 noon local time. Quiet? It's more likely to be noisy. - SB

7:45pm: Macnamara finds his aggressive line
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Earlier today, we featured an update that detailed four hands lost by Tomas Macnamara. To redress the balance, here's three hands from which he won two-and-a-half.

Macnamara was moved to the outer table after Martin Nikolov's elimination, and he brought an aggressive game with him. After Benjamin Pollak raised to 40,000 from the cutoff, Macnamara three-bet to 135,000 from the small blind and took it down.

The next hand, Macnamara was on the button and he raised to 45,000. Peter Ockenden called in the small blind and they saw a flop of A♥T♦A♦. Ockenden checked, Macnamara bet 35,000, and Ockenden folded.

Then the big one. Or not, as the case may be. A few hands later, Macnamara opened from the button, making it 45,000 to play. Ockenden was in the big blind now and he three-bet to 143,000.

After it came back to Macnamara, he moved in for 974,000 and after only a couple of seconds, Ockenden called. Whoever won this would be chip leader going into tomorrow. Unless...

Ockenden showed A♥K♦. Macnamara showed A♣K♠. The flop brought cards of three different suits and that was a chop.

That was the last significant action of the day. They are now bagging for the evening with 14 players left. Full counts and a wrap up to follow.

7:30pm: Yurasov still leading the action
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Dmitry Yurasov continues to stay in the mix, winning and losing as he goes.

He opened to 45,000 from the cutoff and Daniele Colautti called from the big blind. Yurasov continued for 40,000 and Colautti check-called. The A♣ turn was checked through before Colautti check-called another 175,000. Yurasov opened A♣7♦ and Colautti mucked.

The very next hand, he opened to 45,000 again and picked up two callers. The flop spread T♣T♥5♣ and his 55,000 c-bet was only called by Ockenden in the next seat. The 2♥3♣ rolled out with neither player committing any more chips. Ockenden opened A♦5♦ and Yurasov mucked.

Yurasov - 1.75 million
Ockenden - 1.05 million
Colautti - 555,000

7:25pm: Tough times for Schemion
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Another in a seemingly endless run of knocks for Ole Schemion, once more against Mats Karlsson.

Karlsson opened for 55,000 in the small blind which Schemion called from the big. On the flop of 7♠4♣K♥ Karlsson bet 75,000 and Schemion called again. Both players checked the T♠ turn before the 8♠ on the river. Another 80,000 this time from Karlsson. Schemion called, but couldn't beat Karlsson's A♦8♦. Schemion down to less than 250,000. - SB

7:20pm: Nikolov loses race to bust in 15th
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Martin Nikolov, who suffered that cruel beat at the hands of Xixiang Luo a moment ago, has now become our 15th placed finisher, denying Bulgaria its shot at a third EPT title.

Nikolov open shoved for 411,000 from the cutoff and action folded to Peter Ockenden in the small blind. He asked for a count--Ockenden didn't have a whole lot more than Nikolov, but it was the covering stack--and then moved all-in himself. Marco Bartolini duly folded the big blind.

They strapped on the spikes and headed to the track:

Ockenden: A♦Q♣
Nikolov: T♠T♣

The flop brought instant gratification for Ockenden. It came 5♦A♠2♣. The J♥ missed Nikolov. And the 9♦ river was also wide of the mark.

That left Nikolov heading to cash desk, with a promissory note for €25,030. Ockenden has close to a million chips. -- HS

7:15pm: Good news, bad news
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Good news for Aliaksei Boika, not so good for Ole Schemion.

Boika opened for 45,000 which Schemion called for a 3♥9♥7♣ flop. Boika checked to Schemion, and then called his 56,000. He checked again on the 7♠ turn before calling Schemion's bet of 136,000. On the river card J♠ Schemion moved all-in, which Boika snap called, turning over 9♣9♠ for a turned full house. Schemion had T♥Q♥ and drops down to a perilous looking 271,000. Boika meanwhile has more than 1.2 million. - SB

7:10pm: Luo doubles and the rail goes wild
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Xixiang Luo flopped a three-outer to survive and his two supporters on the rail let out a yelp before realising they may have been rude, so stuck fists in theirs mouths to plug the noise.

It had seemed that Luo was looking for a spot to get his short stack in, and he found it. The action folded to him in the small blind and he moved in for his last 349,000. Martin Nikolov was in the big blind and snap called.

Luo: A♥8♥
Nikolov: K♥K♣

The board ran A♠2♣6♥Q♣7♥ and Luo jumped up and fist-bumped his friends, all three then happy to celebrate. Nikolov dropped to 430,000 and was cheer duo a little when he heard someone shout "Bulgaria" from somewhere in the room. --MC

7:05pm: All-in, all-in, all-in, all-in
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Four consecutive hands on the outer table brought four consecutive all-in moves. The net result was a double up for Peter Ockenden, a few blinds and antes for Xixiang Luo and a moment of reflection for Dimitry Yurasov.

The first shove came from Luo, open-pushing the button for his last 290,000. The two blinds got out of the way.

The next hand started in exactly the same fashion as the one that eliminated Yury Gulyy a short while ago: action folded to Yurasov in the small blind and he found out that Ockenden had only 212,000 in the big blind. Yurasov set Ockenden in.

Ockenden called quickly, but had only J♠7♠. It was better than Yurasov's T♠6♥, however, and stayed so through a board of Q♦K♣5♠9♠8♥. That earned Ockenden his double.

On the next hand, Yurasov opened his button to 45,000 but then folded after Marco Bartolini moved all-in for 520,000.

And then the last hand of this update provides a perfect symmetrical bookend. Luo shoved and got it through. -- HS

6:55pm: Somebody stop this man. Pollak puts his hand up
Level 21 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Dmitry Yurasov kept his foot firmly to the floor after he eliminated Yury Gulyy, winning four of the next five pots all preflop, with either open-raises or three-bets. Somebody had to stop him running over the table, and that player was Benjamin Pollak.

Yurasov opened to 45,000 from under the gun and picked up two callers, including the Frenchman on the button. The flop fell 4♥2♠K♥ and Yurasov continued for 55,000. Pollak was the only opponent interested, and interested enough to raise to 125,000. Yurasov thought for a minute and called.

Both players checked the 4♣ turn before Yurasov checked the Q♣ river. Pollak took a short amount of time to think before he moved all-in for 305,000. This move sent Yurasov into the tank. He stared at his opponent who was looking anywhere but back. Several minutes passed when Pollak called the clock. The Russian player let it run down by about 40 seconds and then tossed his cards into the muck. He dropped to a still impressive 1.8 million while Pollak moved past 700,000. -- MC

6:45pm: Well Saad
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Elie Saad moves up to 1.2 million after doubling through Ole Schemion.
Schemion opened for 46,000 which Saad 3-bet to 130,000 on the button. Schemion then moved all-in which Saad called all in for 577,000. And with good reason, he was ahead with A♠A♥ against A♣Q♣.

The board came 9♦J♥4♦6♥5♠

Saad in good shape now, while Schemion drops to 1.1 million. - SB

6:40pm: Gulyy plays all the angles, still busts
Level 23 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Yury Gulyy is a wily campaigner and has managed to cling on with a short stack, steadily laddering up the payouts table, for hours on end. But he is now on the rail, having narrowly failed to make one last pay-jump before he bust.

When they came back from the break, Xixiang Luo shoved his short stack in from the small blind and no doubt Gulyy was crying out for Martin Nikolov, in the big blind, to make the call. Gulyy probably wasn't alone in noticing that there was a jump of more than €5,000 between 16th and 15th.

However after Nikolov tanked for a long time, he eventually passed, which left Luo still involved.

Two hands later and Gulyy was in the big blind. Action folded to Dimitry Yurasov in the small blind and he pushed forward a tower of lime green chips, covering Gulyy by a long way.

Gulyy looked at his cards and clearly saw enough to make a call for his tournament life, but waited and waited and waited until action played out on the feature table. He could see it on a monitor and was clearly hoping someone was going to be eliminated from there.

Learning that nobody had been knocked out, he then moved his tower of chips near to the betting line--a pump-action fake if ever there was one. Yurasov wagged his finger at Gulyy, clearly indicating that this was a bit of a bend of the rules.

Not long after that, Gulyy did eventually call, and he was actually in great shape. His A♣8♠ was way ahead of Yurasov's 9♦8♦.

But instant karma came and got Gulyy. The board ran 2♣3♣A♦5♦3♦ and the last diamond on the river flushed him away.

Gulyy gets €19,640. Everyone else is now guaranteed at least €25,030. -- HS

6:35pm: Macnamara doubles
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

A big pot worth 804,000 just played out between Mats Karlsson and Ole Schemion. On a board of A♦2♠8♠J♠K♠ Karlsson checked to Schemion. He paused, then checked himself only to see Karlsson turn over A♥K♣ to win the pot. - SB

6:25pm: Feature table seat draw

SeatTable 1Table 2
1Mats KarlssonDaniele Colautti
2Louis CartariusBenjamin Pollak
3Tomas MacnamaraXixiang Luo
4Dominik PankaMartin Nikolov
5Aliaksei BoikaDmitry Yurasov
6Bastian DohlerYury Gulyy
7Ole SchemionPeter Ockenden
8Elie SaadMarco Bartolini

6:15pm: Macnamara doubles
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Just as we say we haven't seen Tomas Macnamara win a hand all day, he doubles up through Mats Karlsson.

On a flop of Q♠9♣T♣ Macnamara bet 55,000 from his position in the cut off. Karlsson raised to 125,000 from the button and Macnamara announced he was all in. After checking amounts Karlsson called, turning over J♣J♦ for a straight draw. Macnamara though showed Q♣9♠, which got better on the Q♥ turn and the T♦ river.

An important double up for Macnamara, taking his stack up to more than 700,000. Karlsson still strong though with around 1.1 million. - SB

6:10pm: Jensen perishes in 17th
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

That is the end of Frederik Jensen's day: he has been chip-leader and short stack and various junctures and now he's the 17th-placed finisher. That is final.

Xixiang Luo, who only had a few more chips than Jensen, shoved the cutoff. It was for 169,000. Jensen called for his last 155,000 from one seat along, and everyone else left them to it.

Luo: K♦T♠
Jensen: A♦7♦

The board helped only Luo. It came K♥8♣T♦. Then the K♠ left Jensen drawing dead.

Jensen shook hands around the table--no hard feelings--and off he went. We now have only one former champion in the field, and only one player who has been at an EPT Malta final table. It's the same man: Dominik Panka.

They'll do a complete redraw for the last 16 players. We are going to play to the end of this level and then be done with it. -- HS

6:05pm: Just look at Dominik Panka!
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000-20,000 (ante 3,000)

Here are the counts from the break and just look at young Dominik go! Down to four big blinds earlier in the day, and staring bleak elimination in its gaping maw, the Polish phenom now only has Ole Schemion higher than him in the chip-counts.

Ole SchemionGermany1624000
Dominik PankaPoland1552000
Mats KarlssonSweden1474000
Dmitry YurasovRussia1361000
Bastian DohlerGermany1083000
Daniele ColauttiItaly1015000
Louis CartariusGermany983000
Martin NikolovBulgaria974000
Aliaksei BoikaBelarus845000
Marco BartoliniItaly670000
Elie SaadLebanon640000
Benjamin PollakFrance546000
Tomas MacnamaraUK399000
Peter OckendenUK286000
Yury GulyyRussia215000
Xixiang LuoChina188000
Frederik JensenDenmark126000

8G2A2599_Dominik_Panka_EPT13MAL_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Dominik Panka: What a boy

5:50pm: Level up
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

That's the end of Level 21 and they're taking a 20-minute break. We'll have full counts in a moment.

5:45pm: Nikolov nicks a few
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

Louis Cartarius opened for 35,000 which Benjamin Pollak raised to 85,000 from the cut off. Next to him was Martin Nikolov on the button. There was no quick reaction, instead he tanked for a minute before sliding forward a four bet, some 255,000.

The action went back to Cartarius who leaned forward to count stacks, but then folded. Pollak smartened up his stack, putting spare blue chips on top of piles, and then leaned back in his chair. He asked how much it was again, then folded. - SB

5:40pm: Macnamara can't catch a break
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

It is slightly too much to say Tomas Macnamara is in freefall, but it's equally fair to say that this hasn't been the best day of his poker career. He simply can't seem to catch a break.

Here are a few hand reports to prove the point:

He was in the big blind when Aliaksei Boika completed from the small. Macnamara checked and they saw a flop of 3♦2♥2♦. Boika bet 16,000 and Macnamara raised to 45,000. He had seen a free flop from the big blind, so this was snugly in his range. Boika called.


Aliaksei Boika

The A♥ came on the turn and both players checked. Then after the J♠ came on the river, Boika's bet of 35,000 was enough to get Macnamara to fold. Boika had 580,000 after that hand; Macnamara 81,000.

Next hand: Macnamara was in the small blind and it was his turn to complete. Mats Karlsson checked his big blind and they saw the 8♦A♠2♠ flop for the minimum investment.

Macnamara bet 16,000 and Karlsson called. Then they saw the T♠ on the turn and Macnamara bet 40,000. Karlsson called. Then they saw the A♣ on the river and Macnamara bet 75,000. Karlsson called again and his T♣7♣ beat Macnamara's 4♣6♠.


Tomas Macnamara can't catch a break

About 20 minutes later, Macnamara was involved in another two hands in the blinds. In the first, he defended the big blind after Daniele Colautti opened from under the gun. They took a flop of T♥6♠A♦ and Macnamara check-called Colautti's bet of 30,000.

They both checked the 2♦ turn. And then Macnamara bet 80,000 at the 3♠ river. Colautti called and Macnamara rolled over his K♣J♣. Colautti showed his 8♣8♠ and it was good.

On the next hand, Boika open raised his button, making it 35,000 to play, and Macnamara called in the small blind. They both checked the 7♣K♣2♦ flop and then after Macnamara checked the 6♥ turn, Boika's bet of 55,000 got things done.

Macnamara was left with 400,000 at the end of all that, which is a real downturn after starting the day with more than a million.

Compare that with Colautti, who is now up to 1.03 million, having been down to about 150,000 earlier today. -- HS


Daniele Colautti: Upward motion

5:35pm: Yurasov a menace to society (or maybe just Table 2)
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

Dmitry Yurasov might not really be a menace to society but he certainly has been on Table 2 since he was moved there. He's got his stack up to 1.4 million.

Firstly of all he three-bet Benjamin Pollak off a hand, the latter taking several minutes to relinquish his hand.

The very next hand he raised to 35,000 off the button and went on to bet 35,000, 105,000 and 240,000 on each street. The final board was 2♥A♠6♠J♥9♠ and Elie Saad called all the way from the small blind. Yurasov opened K♠5♠ for the nuts and Saad angrily mucked his hand, dropping to 395,000. --MC

5:25pm: Boika bounce
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

Aliaksei Boika opened for 35,000 on the button and got raised by Mats Karlsson in the big blind who made it 110,000 to play. Boika called for a flop of 7♣J♣5♠.

Karlsson checked to Boika who bet 95,000. Karlsson called. Both then reverted to checking, doing so on the Q♦[ turn and the 3♣ river. 9♠9♣ for Karlsson but A♦J♦ for Boika. He's up to 780,000 while Karlsson is still on more than 1.3 million. - SB

5:20pm: Jensen sticks around
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

Frederik Jensen's mind has been elsewhere since the change in schedule, and he nearly took his body with it. He had one foot out the door in a hand against Xixiang Luo, but hit a three-outer on the river to stick around.

Luo shoved from the small blind with 266,000 and Jensen called from the big, for his last four bigs. Jensen was marginally ahead at this stage with Q♠3♣ against Luo's T♣9♣ but fell behind on the 2♦K♦T♥ flop.


Frederick Jensen: Don't look back in anger

The 9♥ gave him hope, even though it was a second pair for Luo. Then the miracle J♥ came on the river to double Jensen and keep his hopes alive. -- HS

5:10pm: Jensen's ire mounts
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

Frederik Jensen's foul mood is not going to get better any time soon as he has just become the latest player to double up Dominik Panka. It has left Jensen with only four big blinds--and steam coming from every orifice.

Jensen opened to 32,000 from the button and Bastian Dohler called in the small blind. Panka then three-bet to 112,000 from the big blind and, after pondering for a little while, Jensen shoved for 569,000.

Dohler got out of the way, but Panka called all-in. There was only about 70,000 between them, with Panka under threat.

Panka: 8♣8♠
Jensen: 9♣T♠

Panka flopped a set when the 6♥8♥Q♠ emerged, but Jensen still had four outs: any jack would give him a straight. He missed, though, when turn and river came 2♠ and Q♥.

Panka now has 1.05 million--a tournament high point for him. Jensen has only 64,000, but should remember that Panka had that at the end of Level 19 and now look at him. -- HS

5:05pm: Set versus...
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

Benjamin Pollack opened for 35,000 which Louis Cartarius called from the big blind. The flop came 8♠K♥9♣ which Cartarius checked called the 55,000 bet by Pollack. On the 7♦ turn he did the same, check calling his bet of 85,000. The river card was the T♥. Unbeknownst to Pollack, who was holding 9♥9♠, Cartarius had just made his own set with T♣T♠. Both players checked and Pollack reacted with pain at seeing Cartarius's hand.

He drops to 650,000 while Cartarius has more than 1.2 million. - SB

5:05pm: Schedule change announced; Jensen not happy
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

The floor staff have gone around to each table and explained a change in today's schedule. Originally the plan was to stop with 16 players remaining, but the fact that we've got down to 17 already has caused a change of thought.

The new plan is to carry on playing until the end of Level 22, regardless of how many players get eliminated in that time. Frederick Jensen, who just took a bad beat on the feature table, wasn't happy about this ruling and stepped off the stage to have a word with a floor person.

Jensen's view was that it was unfair to wait until the last moment change the schedule from the one set out at the beginning of play. He went on to say he just took a bad beat at the feature table and was looking forward to a break to get over it. This change, he feels, now puts him at a disadvantage.

He received apologies from the tournament staff but they have not relented. -- MC

4:50pm: Diaz dusted; Dohler more than doubles
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

A huge hand just developed on the feature table--a hand that might have taken us down to our last two tables. However, although Guillaume Diaz was duly dispatched, going into the battle with the worst hand, Bastian Dohler has pulled off a spectacular treble up, even if his hand wasn't the best at the start either.

It opened when Diaz shoved for 157,000 from the cutoff and Frederick Jensen called on the button. Dohler then pushed too from the small blind and Jensen called that.

Jensen had the biggest stack at the table and comfortably covered both those two. He also had the best hand:

Jensen: K♥K♦
Dohler: T♥T♣
Diaz: K♣J♣

The board was gin for Dohler, and gave hope to Diaz. It came 4♦T♦A♠. Although Diaz was calling for a queen, the 5♦ came on the turn and the 6♥ came on the river.


Guillaume Diaz

That meant Jensen had to pay off Dohler's 492,000 shove, leaving him with 599,000. Dohler now stacks up 1.18 million. Diaz is out -- HS

4:45pm: End of the Mette game
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

It's the end of the road for Armin Mette, who had played a solid game as the short stack this afternoon. After opening for 34,000 and getting a call from Benjamin Pollak they saw a flop of 8♥9♠Q♦. This meant top pair for Mette, holding A♦Q♥ but Pollak had flopped a straight, holding J♥T♣.

Pollak checked to Mette who bet 38,000 before Pollak raised to 102,000. Calmly, Mette announced he was all-in. It was an easy call for Pollak.


Armin Mette: Departs

As the TV crews were summoned Mette stood and packed away his things. The turn 3♠[ and river 3♦ were irrelevant and he departed in 19th place. - SB

4:35pm: Karlsson continues his climb
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

Mats Karlsson continues his climb and is now up to 1.3 million. He just won a pot from Peter Ockenden that is the kind not always reported among the wham-bam knockout fest we've seen today.

Ockenden raised to 35,000 from the hijack and Karlsson defended his big blind. They both then checked the 6♣5♦7♥ flop.

The K♦ came on the turn and Karlsson bet 50,000. Ockenden called. Then the A♦ came on the river. Karlsson bet 150,000 and Ockenden called.

Karlsson had flopped the joint with his 9♥8♥ and Ockenden said, "Nice hand" as he mucked. Ockenden has 300,000 left. -- HS

4:30pm: Yurasov fighting back
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

You wouldn't expect a player like Dmitry Yurasov to lie down and die after taking a few knocks, and he isn't. He took a chunk out of Tom Macnamara's stack to see his stack grow back up to 730,000.

Macnamara opened to 35,000 from middle position and Yurasov peeled from the big blind to see a 6♦8♠K♣ flop appear. Macnamara continued for 40,000 and Yurasov check-called to the 5♥ turn rhat was checked through. The T♠ completed the board and Macnamara bet 97,000 when the action was checked to him. Yurasov went into the tank for so long that one expected a call or fold, but he surprised with a raise to 310,000, only leaving himself 80,000 behind. Macnamara didn't have the goods and folded to drop to 1.1 million. --MC

4:15pm: All hail King Ole
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000-16,000 (ante 2,000)

He might look as if he's just nipped to Woodstock in the recent break (or is the tyrannical despot leader of a rogue Middle Eastern state), but Ole Schemion is a poker player par excellence. He is our new leader!


Full counts

Ole SchemionGermany1600000
Mats KarlssonSweden1207000
Tomas MacnamaraUK1187000
Louis CartariusGermany1178000
Frederik JensenDenmark1062000
Bastian DohlerGermany866000
Aliaksei BoikaBelarus837000
Benjamin PollakFrance786000
Elie SaadLebanon766000
Martin NikolovBulgaria696000
Daniele ColauttiItaly662000
Marco BartoliniItaly626000
Peter OckendenNetherlands546000
Dmitry YurasovRussia474000
Guillaume DiazFrance385000
Dominik PankaPoland280000
Armin MetteGermany231000
Yury GulyyRussia212000
Xixiang LuoChina204000

3:50pm: Break time
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

That's the end of the second level today--the 20th in all--and players are taking a 20-minute break. Only 19 remain. Three more will be eliminated before the end of the day. -- HS

3:45pm: Sergeev loses Delilah, loses chips
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

Shorn of his massage therapist, having been moved to the feature table where it's not permitted, Sergey Sergeev lost all his power. Like Samson, he is now defeated too, becoming Ole Schemion's latest victim.

This was another pre-flop raising battle with Sergeey getting his stack in from the button and Schemion in the small blind. Sergeev didn't believe that Schemion could be packing and thought K♥Q♦ might be good. It wasn't. Schemion had K♦K♣ and Sergeev hit the rail.

He was last heard moaning, "Delilah! Delilah!" -- HS

3:40pm: Cartarius the executioner
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

"Stay away from that guy!" said Benjamin Pollak. "At least for the next 30 minutes."

He was referring to Louis Cartarius, who had just knocked Brian Altman the very next hand after he took care of Davidi Kitai. Altman moved all-in for 130,000 from the hijack and was only called by Cartarius on the button.

Altman: A♥8♣
Cartarius: J♥J♦

The board ran 7♦9♠T♦8♦3♠ to make Cartarius a straight. He moved up to 1.1 million. --MC

3:35pm: Kitai falls to earth
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

After losing a huge pot earlier, Davidi Kitai has had to manage a short stack for the past hour. But now he saw his moment. He looked down at Q♦Q♠ and opened for 27,000 in the cutoff.

Two seats along Louis Cartarius raised to 71,000 from the small blind. Kitai, brow furrowed, moved all-in. Cartarius took very little time to call and turned over T♣A♠.
It looked like Kitai would double up to play on. The flop was easy enough, 8♥5♠K♥. Then the turn 9♣. Kitai was now dodging only an ace to ensure a double up, but then it came on the river A♣.


Louis Cartarius

Kitai looked up. There was an audible inhale from those watching before Kitai himself exhaled. He wished everyone good luck and departed the Main Event. - SB

3:30pm: Zhang can't beat Ace-Queen, twice
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

Chi Zhang isn't going to remember his time on the EPT feature table with much happiness. And he's also likely to wince when he sees Ace-Queen, at least for a little while.

He just lost two pots against opponents holding Ace-Queen (Ole Schemion, with A♠Q♥; Bastian Dohler, with A♥Q♥) and he is now on the rail in 23rd place.

The first was the most significant pot. It was for more than 1.2 million chips and all of them went to arguably the most dangerous player in the field. Schemion's A♠Q♥ beat Zhang's A♣T♥ through a board of 9♥6♥2♦7♥9♠.

Zhang raised to 27,000 pre-flop from the cutoff, Sergey Sergeev called on the button and then Schemion three-bet to 100,000 from the small blind. Zhang shoved, covering both opponents, and although Sergeev folded, Schemion called for 491,000. Then after the board bricked, Schemion counted his spoils.


Ole Schemion: Just returned from Woodstock

Not long afterwards, Zhang got his last 120,000 in with T♣T♠ by Dohler hit an ace on the flop with his A♥Q♥ and that was the end of the run for Zhang. -- HS

3:20pm: Yurasov doubles with aces
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

Dmitry Yurasov's back on track after he doubled up through Daniele Colautti.

He opened to 26,000 from the cutoff and called after Colautti three-bet to 76,000 from the big blind. The flop fanned 4♠T♣9♠ and Colautti set Yurasov in for his last 191,000. Snap call.

Colautti: J♣J♥
Yurasov: A♣A♦

The board ran out 8♦K♦ to see the aces hold. --MC

3:06pm: "I know," said Saad
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

A double up for Elie Saad after a good call on the river.

With the board dealt up to the turn showing 8♥2♥A♥9♠ Saad checked to Brian Altman who bet 87,000. Saad called.

On the river Q♦ it was a similar pattern, only this time after Saad checked Altman moved all-in. Saad paused. After starting at the tournament clock for a few seconds Louis Catarius in the seat next to him leaned forward, explaining that they just lost a player on the other table, in case he was thinking of the pay jump.

"I know, I know" he replied. Good point though.

After a lengthy pause, one long enough to suggest a fold was coming, he called. It was a good one. Altman had been bluffing with 6♠T♠. Saad called with T♦A♦ and is up to 730,000. Altman meanwhile drops to 130,000. - SB

3:05pm: Luo high
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

A come-from-behind double for Xixiang Luo on the feature table. He got A♥Q♣ to beat Bastian Dohler's Q♠Q♦. An A♣ on the flop helped a lot. Luo's all-in was for 104,000 so he is now revelling in more than twice that amount. -- HS

3pm: Pay jump
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

Konrad Abela's elimination means there's a pay-jump. The next seven players to be eliminated will all get €19,640. The payout schedule is over there on the payouts page.

2:55pm: That's a knockout!
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

We have just lost our final Maltese player after Konrad Abela couldn't double his micro-stack the first time he got it in.

Action folded to him on the button and, with only 85,000 left, it was pretty much a mandatory push. He did the necessary, even though he only had 8♣9♥.

Tomas Macnamara folded the small blind, but Abela couldn't get Mats Karlsson to give up his big blind. And it got worse for Abela: Karlsson's T♠9♣ was about as bad as it could be for him.


Konrad Abela: Last Maltese hope

The board ran 4♠9♦6♥K♥5♠ and Abela hits the rail, collecting €15,540 for 24th. Karlsson stacks 710,000 while the EPT continues its search for a Maltese champion. Only one chance left!

2:50pm: Double double
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

While Marco Bartolini was busy doubling through Dmitry Yurasov, Dominik Panka was doing likewise on the feature table.

Details are sketchy on Panka's double up, but we do know he got luck with A♥8♥ to come from behind to beat Guillaume Diaz A-J. Panka made a straight by the turn and continues his fight back.

Yurasov's stack has dipped to 218,000 after he lost a race to Bartolini. The latter opened to 26,000 from the cutoff and then four-bet all-in for 321,000 after the Russian three-bet to 76,000 from the small blind. Call.

Yurasov: A♣Q♠
Bartolini: 9♠9♣

The board ran A♥9♥8♥3♠2♣ to make Bartolini a set. --MC

2:35pm: All-in streak
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

Here's something we can safely deduce from recent evidence: They're not shy of getting their chips in. Over the space of four hands on Table 2, there were four pre-flop all-in shoves.

The first: Armin Mette open-shipped from the button for 204,000. No one called.
The second: Martin Nikolov opened to 27,000 from mid-position and Mette shipped again, this time for slightly less than 250,000 from the cutoff. Everyone folded.
The third: Mette opened to 27,000 from the hijack and Davidi Kitai stuck it right back up him. Kitai pushed for 253,000 from the button and everybody, including Mette, folded.
The fourth: Brian Altman opened to 27,000 from the hijack and Elie Saad made it 70,000 from the button. The blinds got out the way and Altman moved in for 305,000 on top of his opening raise. Saad, with 328,00 behind, folded.

The streak came to its conclusion on the next hand, when Louis Cartarius opened to 26,000 from the button and Nikolov called in the big blind. They saw a flop...and who cares about that?

2:30pm: Three table redraw
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

After a short break for the final three table redraw to take place, cards are back in the air. Here's how they line up now:

SeatTable 1Table 2Table 3
1Mats KarlssonBenjamin PollakSergey Sergeev
2Daniele ColauttiMartin NikolovOle Schemion
3Marco BartoliniYury GulyyGuillaume Diaz
4Peter OckendenArmin MetteXixiang Luo
5Dmitry YurasovBrian AltmanFrederick Jensen
6Aliaksei BoikaDavidi KitaiBastian Dohler
7Konrad AbelaElie SaadDominik Panka
8Tomas MacnamaraLouis CartariusChi Zhang

Table three was chosen as the feature table. --MC

2:10pm: Herzali hits the rail, but Panka endures
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

With both Dominik Panka and Sarah Herzali returning after the break with micro stacks, it was a perverse race between the two of them for who would bust first. They both tried their hardest, getting their stacks in at the earliest opportunity, but while Panka doubled, Herzali lost.


Sarah Herzali: No way back

Panka's hand played out first. He had 8♦7♠ and was up against Konrad Abela's 5♠5♣. The flop offered little hope for Panka. It came K♣9♣A♠. But he picked up a straight draw after the 6♦ turn and then nailed it with the 5♦ river.

"Three big blinds, nothing to worry about," he said. "It's not a big pot."

On the EPT Live feature table Herzali had 9♠4♠ and was up against Tomas Macnamara and Benjamin Pollak. Pollak got out the way after the turn, by which point four cards were out: A♦J♥T♣6♠ and Macnamara showed his Q♠9♥. The 7♦ on the river kept Macnamara ahead and we lost our final woman from the field.

They will now pause the clock again for a redraw at 24 players. -- HS

2:05pm: Herzali and Panka need level 20 miracles
Level 19 - Blinds 6,000-12,000 (ante 2,000)

Here's how the final 25 stack up as level 20 gets under way:

Frederik JensenDenmark 994,000
Aliaksei BoikaBelarusPokerStars player980,000
Martin NikolovBulgaria 920,000
Tomas MacnamaraUK 914,000
Peter OckendenNetherlandsPokerStars qualifier890,000
Dmitry YurasovRussiaPokerStars qualifier880,000
Bastian DohlerGermanyPokerStars qualifier800,000
Benjamin PollakFrance 752,000
Mats KarlssonSweden 735,000
Ole SchemionGermanyPokerStars qualifier650,000
Guillaume DiazFrance 610,000
Daniele ColauttiItaly 600,000
Louis CartariusGermanyPokerStars player565,000
Elie SaadLebanon 485,000
Sergey SergeevRussia 470,000
Chi ZhangUK 460,000
Brian AltmanUSAPokerStars player360,000
Xixiang LuoChinaPokerStars player360,000
Marco BartoliniItalyLive satellite winner313,000
Yury GulyyRussiaPokerStars qualifier294,000
Davidi KitaiBelgium 280,000
Armin MetteGermanyPokerStars player260,000
Konrad AbelaMalta 200,000
Dominik PankaPoland 78,000
Sarah HerzaliFrance 13,000

2:00pm: Panka struck before the break
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

Before the Sergeev had got people talking there was the plight of Dominik Panka to report.
Panka was the victim of Sergeev. With the board reading 9♣3♣3♥J♥ the chips had gone in. Panka had A♣A♠ to Sergeev's 8♦3♦. Sergeev was ahead with a card still to come. It was the T♠. The relief on his face was enough to require further massage.

For Panka though it was big trouble.

"My game is not working anymore," he said, joking to Ole Schemion opposite. "My mum told me: 'You can fold, no one will know.'"


Dominik Panka: Advice from his mum

Panka had 45,000 going into the break. -- SB

1:45pm: Weird hand alert
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

A hand to be filed under "I've never seen that before."

It involved Sergey Sergeev and Aliaksei Boika, it went on for ages, and when it was over it left everyone scratching their heads.

We got their later. Four players had seen the flop but only Sergeev and Boika reached the river on a board of 8♠T♣K♠9♠J♦

Boika bet 180,000, and just as on the flop and river Sergeev got his chips ready to call. Only this time he didn't call. This was a big moment, and calling would leave him only 250,000 behind. And so began a ten minute tank.

First he started calling out numbers to Boika, who throughout this ordeal remained motionless and emotionless. Sergeev, still getting that massage that started at some point in August, changed to words: flush, jack, spade, that sort of thing.
And then it got weird.

Sergeev asked for the floor. The floor was duly called and Sergeev stood up from his seat. Important side point here: you're still charged for a massage, even when you stand up for a private conversation with a floor.

He approached the first floor, only to be told he needed to speak to the other floor. He asked to do this privately.

"Tete a tete?" asked the floor.

"Tete a tete" replied the Russian.

They both walked a few paces away from the table, forcing the boom operator to extend the microphone to maximum length, while holding on for dear life. Meanwhile this left spectators and the media looked around at each other. Veterans of several years of EPT festivals confirmed they'd never seen anything like it before.

Question asked he returned to his seat, and to his massage, thumbing his cards and his chips as he watched himself on EPT Live, playing on his phone in front of him. After a few more minutes of this he folded.

Everyone exhaled, the boom operators arms throbbing. What the heck was that?

And the question he asked? "If I have the nuts can I call?" The reply to this was no, he would have to raise.

So he folded. - SB

1:35pm: Jensen vaults into lead on last hand before break
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

Although one former champion, Davidi Kitai, is now down on his luck, another, Frederik Jensen, has moved into the tournament lead. He got all his chips in on the feature table in a pre-flop raising war with Sarah Herzali. It ended with Herzali calling Jensen's shove, but with an inferior hand:

Jensen: A♣K♥
Herzali: A♠Q♥

There was nothing unusual on the board, which ran 3♥5♠8♦6♥T♣, and Jensen will return to a stack of 1.09 million. Herzali barely has one big blind.


Frederik Jensen: TV star

We will have full chip counts from the remaining 25 players imminently. -- HS

1:32pm: Yurasov loses some to Colautti
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

Having made an excellent call to slice Davidi Kitai down to size, Dmitry Yurasov just tried to hero again against Daniele Colautti, but this time ended up paying off his opponent.

Yurasov, with the chips now to play any two, opened to 22,000 from under the gun and Colautti was the only caller, in the small blind.

They checked a flop of 8♦T♣K♥ and then Colautti bet 30,000 at the J♦ turn. Colautti then fired 90,000 at the 2♥ river, and Yurasov tank-called. Colautti showed him A♣Q♠ for the nuts, and Yurasov mucked. -- HS

1:30pm: Morale boosting call from Yurasov
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

Dmitry Yurasov's stack had slipped from his lofty position as second in counts at the start of the day, but he just made a great call versus Davidi Kitai to grow his stack to around 950,000.

Kitai opened to 20,000 from the hijack and called after Yurasov three-bet to 70,000 from the next seat. The flop spread K♠2♠Q♥ and Kitai gave Yurasov his famous soul-reading stare-down after he checked to face an 80,000 c-bet.

Both players checked the 7♣ turn and that was the invitation Kitai needed to bet 80,000 on the 5♠ river. Yurasov gave it a good deal of thought before calling with J♦7♦ for third pair.


Davidi Kitai: Cut down to size by Yurasov

Kitai gave out a little noise of disappointment and opened A♥T♥ for a busted straight draw. He dropped to 290,000. --MC

1:20pm: Siddique straightened out by Ockenden
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

Usman Siddique is out, getting his last 75,000 in with a turned two pair, but he definitely seemed to know it might not be good. He contemplated folding, but couldn't let it go.

There was only about 55,000 in the pot and two players with cards: Peter Ockenden, in the cutoff, and Siddique, in the big blind. That pot size was consistent with a late-position min-raise then a call from the big blind.

The flop was likely checked. It was 7♣T♣6♠. And then Siddique bet 28,000 after the 9♣ turn. Ockenden very quickly moved all-in, covering Siddique's meagre stack.

"You show if I fold?" Siddique said.

"I'll show if you go all-in," Ockenden said.


Usman Siddique: Straightened out

Siddique did go all-in, even if it was just an under-call. Siddique showed his T♦9♦, which was not dead against Ockenden's J♣8♠.

However the J♠ on the river didn't help Siddique beat Ockenden's straight. Siddique hits the rail in 26th. One more player will depart and then we'll have a three-table re-draw. -- HS

1:10pm: Luo more than doubles
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

Praying helps you flop sets. That's a fact. We just saw it, and it helped Xixiang Luo double through Chi Zhang.

When we reached the table, Zhang had 68,000 out in front if him from the small blind, in what looked suspiciously like a three-bet. Luo was in the big blind and moved all-in for 182,000. Zhang called.

Zhang: A♦4♦
Luo: 8♦8♥

The cameras moved into place and would have filmed Luo in a praying position, fingers intertwined. His grasp was so tight that even he looked powerless to change his grip, even after flopping a set on a J♠8♠9♥ flop. The board ran out 7♥2♠ and the blood poured back into his fingers as he loosened his grips. Zhang dropped to 550,000. --MC

12:55pm: Ockenden busts Valle
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

Guillaume Valle's Main Event just came to an end. Peter Ockenden opened from the button for 24,000 before Valle moved all-in for roughly 150,000. Ockenden called showing A♥J♠ to Valle's A♠8♠.

"I'm not very good at these," Ockenden joked, in reference to the three-way all-in a few minutes earlier (see entry at 12:50pm). But on this occasion he seemed quite adept.


That's Valle, a one-time chip leader, out of the competition. Ockenden meanwhile has 610,000. - SB


Guillaume Valle: One the lead, now out

1pm: High Rollers assemble

The €10,000 single re-entry High Roller event has kicked off in a tournament space adjacent to the Main Event. Follow our coverage on the High Roller page. Have two tabs open, why don't you?

12:50pm: Zhang's wrecking machine hits the buffers
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

Chi Zhang is almost single-handedly trying to bring this tournament down to its last 16 players, merrily tangling with the short stacks at his table. However, his plan has recently hit the skids with both Brian Altman and Daniele Colautti boosting their short-stacks in back-to-back pots against Zhang.

I caught only the tail-end of the first pot, in which Zhang bet 47,000 at the turn. The board read T♦J♥4♣5♥ at that stage. Altman shoved for 187,000 total and Zhang folded. That boosted Altman to 320,000 and gave him a profit on the day after early struggles.

The very next hand, Zhang opened to 22,000 from the cutoff and Colautti called in the big blind. Colautti only had 140,000 so there was a good chance he was going to be playing for his tournament here.

The flop brought the K♦2♣5♦ and Colautti checked. Zhang bet 21,000 and Colautti called.

The 7♥ came on the turn and Colautti check-called a bet of 32,000 this time, from a stack rapidly dwindling to the felt. After the Q♦ on the river, both players checked and Colautti turned over his K♥8♣.

Zhang mucked, allowing Colautti to bring his stack beyond 22 big blinds. -- HS

12:45pm: No player busts in three-way all-in cooler
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

Massive amounts of chip movements over on table three as a cooler saw three players all-in. There was a chance of a double elimination but, in the end, no one busted.

Peter Ockenden started the pot with a button raise to 24,000. Armin Mette was in the small blind and stared at Ockenden before moving all-in for a 130,000. Guillaume Valle was in the big blind and it was obvious by his reaction after looking at his cards that he had a decision to make. He took 20 seconds and then moved all-in as well. Ockenden took about 0.2 seconds to call.

Mette: A♠Q♠
Valle: T♠T♣
Ockenden: Q♥Q♦

The flop came Q♣7♠5♠ to make Ockenden top set. Mette had flopped a useless top pair but the two spades would've been of great interest to him. The board ran out 2♣6♠ to make Mette's flush.

He tripled up and then the dealer had to pay Ockenden twice of what he had left from Valle stack. He had 169,000 and Valle was left with 130,000 after he paid his dues. --MC

12:40pm: So ends the Bojang double
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

There were moments this week when we dared believe that there might be an EPT winner who only days before won the opening event as well, in this case the IPT Main Event. Alas we have to report that such things won't happen here.

Ismael Bojang, winner of the IPT Main event several days ago, is out of the Main Event in 28th place. HE looked down at Q♦J♦ and moved all-in for his last 155,000. Chi Zhang looked down in a similar way and found Q♠Q♥ and called immediately.

On seeing the two queens Bojang banged his chips into the middle. He had straight and flush possibilities if the board would help him out, but it didn't, landing as it did 2♠4♣4♦5♦3♠.

Bojang wished the guys good luck, and headed for the rail. - SB

12:35pm: Shocking Day 4 for Zhao ends in defeat
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

You've got to feel for Dong Zhao. He entered the day sixth in chips and most probably with high hopes, but now he's out. He doubled up Sergey Sergeev a short while ago and the rest went to Martin Nikolov after a preflop raising war.

Nikolov opened to 23,000 before Zhao three-bet to 59,000. The Bulgarian came back with a four-bet to 166,000 and a snap after Zhao moved all-in for 450,000.

Zhou: T♦T♠
Nikolov: A♣A♦

The TV cameras gathered round before a Q♦7♥J♣7♦4♦ board was delivered. Nikolov had a 526,000 stack but now is just short of seven figures. --MC


Dong Zhao is sent packing by Martin Nikolov

12:30pm: Start/finish
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

The most commonly asked question at the tables these days is, "How much did you start the hand with?" Players schooled on PokerStars need constant reminders of opponents' stacks in order to process the requisite calculations of hold'em poker.

After Brian Altman opened to 23,000 from mid-position and action folded to Chi Zhang in the small blind, Zhang probed Altman for precisely that information. "I've got 285 behind," Altman said.

Zhang then three-bet to 57,000, aiming for a least a portion of Altman's stack. Altman called, putting it out there, an they went to a flop of J♥K♠5♠. Zhang led for 39,000.

Altman called, and then they both checked the 2♦ turn. Zhang found his betting arm again after the 9♦ river, putting 86,000 over the line. Altman called, and Zhang tabled K♣Q♦. Altman mucked.

Having started the hand with about 310,000, Altman now nurses 140,000. Zhang has 740,000 under his command. -- HS

12:25pm: Performance enhancement
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

Poker is not a game that lends itself to new training methods necessarily. Most of the edge comes from your ability to read the game rather than any physical prowess. But there's always room for those marginal gains. Just ask Guillaume Diaz.
I watching a hand between two other players at his table (one which eventually came to nothing) but got distracted by the sight of Diaz, eyes, closed, moving up and down slightly, inhaling and exhaling at the instruction of an app on his phone that played these instructions through his headphones.

The benefits of controlling your breathing in high pressure situations have been well documented (soldiers and law enforcement officers use similar techniques in dangerous situations). So far it's also working for Diaz, albeit with the threat to him being Mats Karlsson's stack opposite rather than bullets or anything. - SB

12:20pm: Sergeev doubles, staying supple
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

Sergey Sergeev's endless massage continues. The man who has had one of Thee Best Hands' massage therapists stroking his back for about seven days straight (no exaggeration) doubled up early on Day 4 to continue the deep muscle therapy.

He got his chips in as a call on the turn, after Dong Zhao bet more than Sergeev had at the following four cards: 7♥J♦3♠6♦. Sergeev had Q♠J♥ and Zhao had 9♣8♣.

The K♦ on the river kept Sergeev ahead and helped him double to close to 400,000.


The never-ending massage

The massage therapist has likely gone through a full cycle of emotions, but one hopes she has now reached a level of acceptance. This is never going to stop. -- HS

12:15pm: First out
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

The first elimination of the day came on table three. Walter Treccarichi opened to 21,000 from under the gun, which Mats Karlsson raised to 45,000 from the cut off. The button and blinds folded, and after a few moments thought, Treccarichi moved all in, and Karlsson wasted no time in calling.

Treccarichi: T♣T♣
Karlsson: Q♦Q♠

The board brought a lot of diamonds, but that would only benefit Karlsson, running as it did 5♦9♦J♦A♦8♣. Treccarichi stood to leave and then was immediately abandoned as attention turned to another all in on another table. - SB

12:10pm: Panka and Schemion
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

One of the most intriguing table draw match ups on Day 4 is the Dominik Panka and Ole Schemion one. The latter has won everything on the EPT except a Main Event, and the former won the PCA after one of the most epic heads up battles in poker history versus Mike McDonald.

They'll be a redraw when six players are eliminated today, so we intend to enjoy them while they're at the same table. It didn't take long for their heads to clash.

Schemion opened from the hijack and Panka called from the big blind. The flop fell K♠8♠6♠ and Schemion continued for 22,000. Panka check-called and then led for 55,000 on the 8♦ turn. Schemion double-checked his cards and quickly tossed them into the muck. --MC

12pm: Away they go
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000-10,000 (ante 2,000)

On the very stroke of five past 12, they almost got under way. There's a slight delay -- known as "faff" in the business" -- as players get seated and stack up their chips, but play is imminent.

The official word is that we play five levels or down to 16 players, whichever comes first. -- HS

11:45am: Down to two tables

Good morning, and welcome again to Portomaso Casino, Malta, for the day before the penultimate day of the EPT Malta festival. Today's plan is pretty simple: we start with 30 players and will finish with 16--unless anyone gets any other ideas over the next few hours.

The rapid rate of eliminations yesterday meant we trimmed a level from the anticipated structure to make sure there was still play to be had today. However, it's not impossible for us to be regretting that later down the line. They're a little bit deeper now than would otherwise be the case, so maybe things will slow down.

NEIL1391__EPT13MAL_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Dealing down to 16

(Quick trivia point: the average stack right now is 468,000. Sixteen players have more than that; 14 have less. The mean is therefore almost exactly the median too. And we need 16 players left to end the day.)

Blinds in Level 19, where we will start today, are 5,000-10,000. Tomas Macnamara's chip-leading stack of 1,028,000 is therefore 102 big blinds. Ismael Bojang, at the opposite end of the counts, has 15 big blinds. The average is 37.

Anyway, poker tournaments have a habit of sorting this kind of thing out organically, so let's just wait and see. Play starts at noon, levels are 90 minutes long, and we'll be here all day. Stick with us.


Take a look at the official website of the EPT, with tournament schedule, news, results and accommodation details for EPT13 Malta and the rest of the season.

Also all the schedule information is on the EPT App, which is available on both Android or IOS.

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the EPT13 Malta Main Event: Stephen Bartley, Marc Convey, Howard Swains and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog

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